Siauliai is the fourth largest city in the Baltic States, the unofficial capital of Northern Lithuania. The city was rebuilt in the 18th century in the spirit of classicism after a violent repression of a peasant revolt. After the partition of Poland in the 1800s, Siauliai rapidly expanded and became an industrial and cultural center.
During World War I, the city was badly damaged. Soon after gaining independence, Lithuania tried to rebuild it, but during World War II the city suffered further destruction.
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One of the most touching places to be sure to visit is the Hill of Crosses north of Siauliai. The hill first became known at the beginning of the 19th century as a Catholic pilgrimage site and over the years, Catholics have left thousands of crosses, crucifixes, statues and statues of the Virgin Mary, rosaries and other religious paraphernalia there. For Lithuanians, the Hill of Crosses still holds true national significance today.
Of the old Siauliai only a little has been preserved, although the layout of the city of the XVIII century is still visible. Most of the buildings were built after World War II, so in terms of architecture, they are nothing interesting. One of the surviving examples of early buildings is the Cathedral of Piatro ir Povilo (St. Peter and Paul), built in the early 1600s on the site of a wooden church. Another interesting building is the town hall, which actually consists of two connected buildings.
The main place in the economy of the city is the processing of leather, as well as the production of products and beverages, which are exported to Western Europe. One of the main activities that changed the appearance of the city was the transformation of Vilniaus Street into a pedestrian zone. This happened in the mid-1970s. For that time, such a solution was very innovative and immediately aroused increased interest both in the country and abroad. Today the streets are paved anew. Vilniaus Street is one of the most beautiful boulevards in Lithuania. With its stores, restaurants and cafes, it resembles Laisves Alley in Kaunas. On the whole, the city makes a very good impression. There are a lot of modern stores and cafes, as well as great hotels. In addition, Siauliai has a lot of unusual museums.
Museum of Radio and Television (Radijo ir TV Muziejus)
In a rather bizarre museum, you can see some unusual items, including a music box from the 19th century with bee bells and a radio set in the shape of a toy robot. Also of interest is a demonstration of a transmitter working in Morse code.
Vilniaus, 174. Tel.: (41) 52-43-99. Open: at the same hours as the Bicycle Museum. Entry fee is charged.
Bicycle Museum (Dviraciu Muziejus)
Like the city’s Radio and Television Museum, the Bicycle Museum is based on one of the major local industries. The museum was created on the basis of the Šiauliai bicycle factory Vajras. There are 259 exhibits on display, 73 of which are in operation.
Vilniaus, 139. Tel.: (41) 52-43-95. Open: July-September Wed-Fri 10.00-18.00, Sat 11.00-17.00; October-June Sat 10.00-18.00, Sat 11.00-17.00. Entrance fee.
Museum of photography (Fotografijos Muziejus)
This museum is located on two floors. On the top floor is a collection of photographic equipment, illustrating the history of this art. On the first floor there are permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Vilniaus, 140. Tel.: (41) 52-43-96.
Cat Museum (Katinif Muziejus)
The museum of cats has more than a thousand exhibits about these animals. The museum was created by cat lover Wanda Kavaliauskienė.
luvininky, 18. Tel: (41) 52-38-83. Open: 11.00-17.00. Closed: Sunday. Entrance fee.
The Tytuvenai Regional Park
About 40 km south of Siauliai you will find Tytuvenai Regional Park. Before the war the famous people of the country used to spend their holidays here. Today, the main attraction of the park are the two Catholic centers – Tytuvenai and Shiluva. The area of the park is over 10,571 hectares. 56% of the area is covered by forests. The local wetlands attract birds here. If you like bird watching, be sure to visit this park. For tourists in the park are placed special observation towers, from which it is very convenient to observe without disturbing the birds. There are many lakes in the park – it is an ideal place for fishing. Boat rentals are available. Some centers even offer pedal boats.
The famous Chapel of Our Lady of Tituvena is one of the five places in Europe where the apparition of the Virgin Mary took place. The Chapel of Our Lady is the center of pilgrimage. Pilgrims come here on the first Sunday of September. On this day, thousands of pilgrims make their way from Tituvenay to Shiluwa. Tituvenai Regional Park: Miskininku, 3, Tytuvenai. Tel: (97) 56-651; http://trp.lt.
Special offers on hotels
When to come
In summer and autumn, unless you’re attracted to winter forest scenery – winter in the Baltic States can be cold.
What to see
The symbol of Siauliai, the Golden Archer, standing on a column near the cathedral. Performances by the world famous state chamber choir “Polyphony”. Prisikelimo Square has been the site of city fairs, markets and trading events for hundreds of years. The old city cemetery near Lake Tulsa – peace and history. Piazza Saules Lacroggio with a remarkable sundial created in 1981.
There is a magic arch on Vilniaus Street: walk under it and your wish will come true, but once you go back, the granted wish will “vanish”.
What is worth seeing in Šiauliai?
Siauliai is rightfully considered the cultural and business center of Northern Lithuania. In comparison, this small Lithuanian city is a hundred years older than Vilnius and a year older than Berlin. Siauliai is already more than 770 years old. According to one of the legends, the name of the city means the city of the sun. In fact, once you get there, the feeling of joy and something good does not leave you. It is the fourth city in Lithuania in terms of population. Of course, by our standards this is not much, its population is just over 135000 people. From Moscow you can reach it by train or by plane Moscow – Kaunas and then by bus Kaunas – Siauliai.
Despite the fact that people lived here as early as the 13th century, the first mention in historical documents has reached us only since the 16th century. But the real impetus for the development of Siauliai came only in the 19th century. It was then that the road Riga – Tilsit was built. Now it is already called Sovetsk. And also the railroad Liepaja – Warsaw was laid. At the same time, industrial enterprises appeared in Siauliai. The most famous of them was the tannery of Frenkelis.
This city, although small, but it is rich with attractions and tourists will be very interesting in it. In this city, a large area of 1,177 hectares is occupied by 16 parks.
In 1981, in honor of the city’s 750th anniversary, a competition was announced to build an original sundial square. And three Lithuanian architects won. In the center of the square there is a sculptural composition called “Sagittarius”. And the citizens dubbed it “Golden boy”. This boy reaches a height of 4 meters. He stands with a bow and quiver on a ball, which itself is on an 18-meter arrow. This is the tallest sundial in Lithuania. And the meaning of this structure can be understood by finding out the translation of the name. “Sagittarius” translates as “shiaulia”, which means that this composition is a symbol of the city. On the bridge square there is a sundial, the dial of which shows the numbers 3, 6 and 12. It symbolically marks the year 1236, when Siauliai was first mentioned in the historical chronicles.
The Mountain of Crosses
This landmark is located 12 kilometers from Siauliai and attracts many tourists. In Lithuanian, this mountain sounds like “Križiu Kalnas”. The first mention of this place dates back to the 16th century. There are many legends about the purpose for which the first cross was erected on the mountain. One legend has it that a grief-stricken father whose daughter had died made a cross and brought it to the mountain. There he prayed, and when he came home, he saw his daughter alive at home. According to another version, in the 19th century there was a rebellion on this place, during which many people died. And local residents, wishing to perpetuate the event, began to bring there crosses.
So it is not known for certain how and why this mountain was erected. But by some estimates, in the middle of last century, there were more than 5,000 crosses. In 1961, the Lithuanian authorities decided to close the place, bulldozers arrived there and dismantled the crosses, and the land was dug over. And after that a plague epidemic began in the area. The authorities imposed a ban on visiting the mountain, but the locals secretly brought their crosses there at night. The official revival of the mountain began in 1988. A chapel and a monastery were built nearby. And in the summer they even began to organize a holiday in honor of this amazing place.
But many tourists still think that this is a cemetery. And in fact, there have never been buried. The mountain of crosses can also be called a kind of temple in the open air, but there are no priests. Each cross represents a specific person who asks for something or thanks God. Crosses are placed in memory of a deceased relative, in honor of the birth of a child, to protect against some misfortune. Crosses there are completely different, there are wooden and metal and stone and plastic. There are even original crosses made of license plates.
According to the inscriptions on the crosses, you can see a peculiar geography of residence of the people who put them up. On the Hill of Crosses there are inscriptions in Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, English, German and many other languages. Mostly there are Catholic crosses, but there are others. According to recent data, there are more than 60,000 crosses on this mountain. To the left of the mountain is a platform where John Paul II prayed for the good of Europe in 1993 and set up his cross.
The place is mesmerizing, but it makes a different impression on everyone. It was creepy for me there, but I don’t regret visiting this amazing mountain.
Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul
All roads in Šiauliai lead to this cathedral. On the square in front of the cathedral, the townspeople have meetings and appointments. In 1445, a wooden church was built on this spot. And later a stone church was built. It is believed that this happened in the 17th century, although the exact date of construction is unknown. The facade of the walls is bright white, and the temple towers are 70 meters high. The cathedral was built in the old European architectural style. Very beautiful on the cathedral looks red tiles. Despite the fact that many destructive wars took place on the territory of Lithuania, we can see this cathedral in its original form. And this is thanks to the townspeople, who after each destruction collected money and restored the cathedral. On one of the walls of the cathedral there is an ancient sundial, which still works properly and shows the exact time.
Villa Chaim Frenkel
The founder of the tannery, Chaim Fränckel, decided to build a villa in 1908. He envisioned this villa to be the home of many generations of his family. However, from 1920 to 1940 in this villa functioned a private Jewish gymnasium. And after the outbreak of World War II, the villa housed a German hospital. And later it was the usual Soviet hospital. And only in 1994 a museum was opened at the villa. Currently, there are two permanent exhibitions. One of them is devoted to the provincial life of the 19th and 20th centuries and the other to the Jewish cultural life of Siauliai.
This is not all the attractions of this small but ancient Lithuanian town, which is very interesting to see.
Siauliai is located in northern Lithuania. It is the fourth most populous city in the country. The city is located 140 km from Kaunas. The territory, on which the city is located, was known to people back in the first millennium AD, and the city is mentioned in the annals of the middle of the 13th century. So, the town is old, and today it is beautiful and noisy. But, the city’s population is slowly decreasing, by the way. But the population is almost entirely composed of Lithuanians. It is considered one of the cultural centers of the country. And here are some sights to see.
Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul (Siauliu Sv. apastalu Petro ir Pauliaus katedra)
The cathedral is located in the center of the city and all roads, as they say, lead to this place. There used to be a small wooden church here, which was built in the middle of the 15th century. Only later the wood was replaced by stone, and the result is a beautiful cathedral in the white Renaissance style. The cathedral’s tower is 70 meters high and the red tiles of the building are visible from afar. Despite the fact that Siauliai constantly had some disasters – fires, wars and natural disasters, the cathedral has survived and reached our days almost in pristine condition. On the wall of the temple hangs the oldest sundial in the country. And the time they show, by the way, is accurate!
Bicycle Museum (Dviraciu muziejus)
The museum is located on Vilniaus Street in the center of the city, 100 meters from the Fountain of Rude. Here you can learn about the history and development of the bicycle. The exhibits here are very valuable. For example a handmade grandfather bicycle, the Imperial Trumpf bicycle from 1812, German and Irish bicycles, and a child’s iron tricycle, which is over 100 years old. The museum opened about 35 years ago and has been attracting crowds of tourists ever since.
Museum of Photography (Fotografijos muziejus)
Located in the same street as the Bicycle Museum. This museum was opened in 1973. In it you can learn about the history of Lithuanian photography and photographic art from its invention until today. The museum displays works by famous Lithuanian and other artists. The collection of photo equipment is very interesting. It’s also great to visit the museum during a variety of events held there regularly.
Resurrection Square (Prisikelimo aikste)
The central square of the city. From this square Siauliai unfolded and sprawled. The square is conventionally divided into several parts by the avenue Aušros and Tilžės Street. For centuries, fairs were held there, and townspeople and merchants from other towns traded there. Later it was known as Turgaus Square. Today, cultural events, performances and festivals are held on the Resurrection Square. And, of course, locals love to gather and hang out here. The square is surrounded by important historical buildings, such as the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, which I wrote about above. The square is also adorned by the sculpture “Grandpa and Grandchildren,” so cute and cozy. There’s also a fountain that was unveiled on City Day about 10 years ago. That year Siauliai celebrated its 770th anniversary.
Rooster Clock Square and Pelikanai Fountain (Gaidzio laikrodzio aikste, fontanas Pelikanai)
The square is located at the intersection of Vilniaus Street and Tilžes Street. On the square on the clock tower there is a metal rooster that welcomes visitors in different languages. It says “Welcome to Šiauliai” in English, Russian, Spanish, Hebrew, French, and other languages. It’s very nice. The fountain was built in ’78. There is a legend here as well. It is as if a flock of pelicans was flying south, but two of them got separated from the group and lost their way, and, flying over Šiauliai, they landed to rest. They landed on Vilniaus Street and immediately began to drink from a puddle. A wicked sorceress was just passing by (why wouldn’t she?) and decided to “preserve” the birds by turning them into stone. And so the poor birds are still standing, and no one can cast a spell on them. But looks, in spite of this drama-romantic story, the fountain with bird figures very nice.
The fountain statue was put up here in 1979. As you can guess even from the name, the sculpture depicts a mother with a baby on her lap. The fountain is located at the crossroads of Vilniaus and Kaštonu streets, 400 meters from the Resurrection Square and 500 meters from the Museum of Photography.
Mount of Crosses
This place is located about 12 kilometers from the city, near the village Jurgiaičiai. This place was first mentioned in the 16th century. It seems that in the 11th-14th centuries, there was a castle on this place, which burned down completely in the middle of the 14th century. No one can say for sure how the first cross appeared on this hill. There are only legends about it. For example, one says that a local resident had a daughter who died. He built a cross of wood and brought it to the mountain, and when he returned home, he found his daughter alive. Other villagers learned of the miracle and began to make and bring crosses on the mountain. Another legend says that in 1831 there was a rebellion, many people were killed, and the relatives have brought and put these crosses in one place. Another legend says that in the 19th century, in the 70s, the Blessed Virgin Mary herself appeared in the village with the baby Jesus and told her that she had to put the crosses here. Anyway, one way or another, but at the end of the 19th century, this tradition took root, and there were already a lot of crosses on the mountain, a hundred and eighty. At the beginning of the 20th century, there were already 400 of them, and 50 years later there were over 3,000. By that time, the place has become famous throughout the country, and people began to come from all over the country with their crosses. Thus, by the 61st year of the last century, there were over 5 thousand crosses. And suddenly, it was decided to demolish the mountain. The crosses were scrapped, the wooden parts were burned, and the stone crosses were thrown into the river. A plague broke out in the area and it was forbidden to go there at all. Still, somehow, crosses started to appear on the mountain. Since ’88, the place began to come back to life again and fill up with crosses. Today there are over 100 thousand of them in different sizes and shapes. Some are one-meter high, where parishioners hang crosses on chains. There are some crosses made of clay and glass, some are made of scraps. Everywhere you can see notes with requests and pictures. In 93, the Pope came here and said a solemn mass. After that, in 2000, a Franciscan monastery was erected near the mountain, where every year they celebrate the day of the Mountain of Crosses.